Mrs. Lowry and Son by Martyn Hesford

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Afternoon Drama on BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio 4, 11 May 2012
Set in the mid-1930s, Martyn Hesford's two-hander focused on the turbulent relationship between the painter L. S. Lowry (Reece Dinsdale) and his dominant mother Elizabeth (Lynda Baron).
Bedridden for many years, Elizabeth expected to be waited on hand and foot; her meals had to be cooked just the way she liked them (not too hot, not too cold); her son had to hold her hand whenever she requested it, and ensure that the evening paper was given to her every evening. She had little time for her son's artistic ambitions; she was more interested in maintaining her social position. The drama summed up her essentially vain personality through a repeated sequence of dialogue: whenever Lowry asked her what she wanted for her meals, she replied that she could not eat a thing on account of her digestion. Lowry then asked her how many sausages or eggs she would like, and she immediately replied "Three." Her pretence of being ill was simply a means to sustain her domination over him.
Dinsdale's Lowry came across as someone conscious of his inadequacies - at the age of forty-seven, he had still not yet discovered his true vocation. While some of his paintings had at last achieved recognition, both in the local area as well as in London, his enthusiasm was continually dampened by his mother's reaction; she found much of his work aesthetically unappealing, not suitable for anyone with social aspirations. In a long speech, she told him in  no uncertain terms that he had been a disappointment to her throughout; she had never wanted a child anyway. Lowry showed admirable restraint, as he continued to look after her, while resolving to pursue his ambitions, in spite of her criticism.
Mrs. Lowry and Son was a powerful drama of contrasting performances. Baron's Elizabeth was both opinionated yet self-centred, demanding complete attention from her unfortunate son. Dinsdale's Lowry had his moments of anger - at one point he threatened to burn all his paintings - but for the most part understood the value of passive acceptance of his mother's views. The director was Gary Brown.